Inside Aghada – an online tool to help students understand electricity generation
01 November 2016
‘Inside Aghada’ is an online power station demonstration tool, developed by ESB, that offers teachers and students a real insight into the workings of its Aghada generating plant.
ESB is an integral part of communities throughout Ireland and beyond and has been supplying power to industry, communities and homes for almost 90 years. Its position as Ireland’s foremost energy company makes it a vital part of building a brighter and more sustainable future.
It also aims to build brighter possibilities by supporting young people and adults in engaging with science, technology and engineering so that they can become the entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers of the future. This is done through partnerships with organisations such as Engineers Ireland, the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin and Tech Space.
ESB regularly hosts visits to its power stations around Ireland as a way of helping people to understand how electricity is generated and hopefully inspiring future generations of engineers. Unsurprisingly, many of the visitors come from schools because station visits provide a really great way to bring parts of the curriculum to life, and help students learn basic scientific principles in a much more engaging way.
While ESB does its best to accommodate as many visitors as it can, most students won’t get the chance to see the inside of a power station before they sit their exams and for those who do, it can sometimes be difficult to see or appreciate the inner workings because much of the equipment is encased due to operational and safety considerations.
With that in mind, ESB has created ‘Inside Aghada’. It is a free, online animated resource which shows the end-to-end process of generating electricity at Aghada Power Station in Cork, one of the cleanest and most efficient plants in Europe. This is the first step on a journey to create a fully-fledged education hub on www.esb.ie so that information and knowledge about the energy sector can be shared in an accessible and engaging way.
The animation allows visitors to take a virtual tour of the plant and explore each stage of production at their own pace, from gas intake to electricity distribution.
The content of the animation is pitched at two levels. The entry level is for those with a general interest in electricity generation. The ‘Learn More’ tab is specifically geared towards students of physics and chemistry students at Leaving Certificate level. It is therefore a valuable teaching resource that has attached Leaving Certificate curricular points to a real world model. The high definition animations brings real life authenticity to the process and open up a world of discovery and knowledge.
As well as the animation, ESB has also provided supplementary teacher notes in Irish and English. The purpose of the manual is to guide and support teachers through lesson planning and includes quiz questions and past examination questions and answers. A table quiz for Junior Cycle students, as many basic junior cert concepts are covered too, has also been included.
The site will allow teachers to step away from the textbook and offers a great platform through which educational practitioners can cover laws of physics and chemistry in a dynamic and creative fashion. It affords the teacher an opportunity to seamlessly connect various parts of the curriculum together thus displaying to students an authentic real world application of the scientific theory they are studying.
The Inside Aghada website demonstrates vividly to students that scientific principles in the curriculum are not stand alone issues but instead are a body of laws – all of which are interconnected. The website shows, in living colour, a chorus of laws and scientific ideas all operating in unison. It shows how a group of laws can be used in a collective movement to generate electricity.
It displays neatly how the curriculum is a body of ideas that can be put together so as to complete valuable and practical work in the world around us. The detailed explanation of the operation at Aghada Power Plant demonstrates to students how the theory of their course has very strong real world applications.
Direct curricular references can be found via the ‘Learn More’ tab which is available on many of the slides, including:
- the fire triangle (in Aghada the triangle is made up of methane, air and the ignitor);
- Ohm’s law;
- the water cycle (in Aghada there is a closed water steam cycle using a finite amount of liquid);
- latent heat and states of matter;
- magnetic flux and induction;
- pressure = force / area (an application of this can be seen in the steam turbine / aerofoil);
- Faraday’s law;
- Lenz’s Law;
- transformer Law;
- methane (hydrocarbon);
- stoichiometry (Leaving Certificate chemistry);
- sine function and phasing (Project Maths Leaving Cert Honours);
- Gay-Lussac’s law;
- the electric motor versus the generator (two sides of the same coin); and,
- there are also many examples of energy conversions at Aghada.
ESB is delighted to be able to share this resource with teachers and students and the animated content is available here.
Teacher notes, which are available in Irish and English, are available from email@example.com://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/11/01/inside-aghada-to-help-students-understand-the-watt-and-how-of-electricity-generation/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Aghada-Control-Room-1024x557.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Aghada-Control-Room-300x300.jpgElecMissededucation,electricity,energy,ESB,STEM,STEPS